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March 10, 2023
The Criminal Justice Academy at Pinellas Park High School offered students a chance to meet and talk with representatives from 23 law enforcement groups, ranging from SWAT team members to Pinellas Park Police Department K-9 units to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Response Team on Friday morning. Pinellas Park has been hosting Law Day since 2011 and it has become an integral part of the Academy’s ability to offer students a glimpse into hundreds of careers.
“It’s nice because you can see what works for you,” said CJA senior Tristan Zybala, who hopes to join the Coast Guard after graduation. “You get to hear real-life stories of what goes on with city, state and federal law enforcement.”
Josh Pringle, a member of the Pinellas Park Police Department SWAT team, says he appreciates the opportunity to meet with the students and potentially impact their career decisions. The SWAT team completed a demonstration involving taking over a school bus and removing the intruders.
“This event allows the students to approach us, which they might not feel comfortable doing if they were to see us on the street,” Pringle said. “It allows them to build that trust in law enforcement.”
Criminal Justice teacher Dr. Jalika Waugh has been spearheading the Law Day event since 2020.
“Getting to see the students excited about the different opportunities they could explore after high school and the connections they make with their future employers is always a highlight,” Waugh said. “And the K-9s are always fun to watch.”
The day concluded with the Corrections Response Team’s demonstration of a simulated fight between inmates as well as the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Eagle helicopter landing on the football field.
“It was amazing,” said freshman Cesar Rangel, who donned Sherriff’s Office pads and a shield to take down a fictional non-compliant perpetrator. “I had to grab him just like in football. My adrenaline was rushing!”